The time has come for an all-party agreement on implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission in relation to state pension eligibility for elderly self-employed people, according to IFA President Padraig Walshe. ‘It has been a clearly unfair system whereby a group of self-employed people were obliged to make PRSI contributions from 1988 onwards, but were ineligible to draw down a pension if they were aged 56 or over when compulsory social insurance was extended to the self-employed. While a limited concession was introduced in 1999 when people with over 5 years’ contributions were granted a half pension, the remaining group have been excluded.’ ‘I strongly welcome the recommendation of the Human Rights Commission that a pension at a reduced rate should be paid to those elderly people who contributed PRSI on the expectation of receiving a pension but were denied by reason only of their advanced age,’ he added. Mr. Walshe said, ‘Farmers make up the single largest group of self-employed, and IFA has highlighted this anomaly in every pre-budget submission in recent years. We have sought a 75 percent pension for those in the 56 – 61 age bracket in 1988, and a 50 percent pension for those aged 61 – 66 at that time.’ The IFA President added ‘bearing in mind that the group who have received no pension to-date despite paying PRSI are now 80 years of age or over, I expect that both the Government and the Opposition Parties will come out quickly in support of the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission to pay a pension at a reduced rate; also I propose that the pension be backdated at least to 1999 when the half pension was introduced for some of the over 56 category.’ ‘The Commission’s report is very thorough, and a particular acknowledgement must go to the elderly Donegal couple who brought the issue to the Commission,’ he concluded.